by Jason Treu
One of the biggest assets a person can have in business is relationship building skills. No matter the industry you are in, those who are specifically good at networking always seem to have the head start. They end up getting the best jobs, closing the most deals, and having the most opportunities in whatever they do.
Many people don’t invest in their business network, and then when they really need it (i.e., they’re laid off, fired, hate their job, want to start a business, etc.) they don’t have one. There are tons of studies that show the easiest way to get a job is through networking, and you’ll also have more leverage to ask for a better compensation package, salary, consulting fees, etc. Invest in your business network now and you will reap huge dividends in your life.
Don’t live life with a relationship deficit! You can master building relationships. Anyone can if they want to…even introverts. The challenge is how and what to do.
Let’s start with the two most important keys in the relationship building process to understand.
You Are Not Born a Social Butterfly
The first key is all social and communications skills are learned behaviors. No one is born with these skills. Do you know any babies that are one day old that can carry a conversation (well…other than crying really loud to get attention!).
Anyone can get good at these skills if they practice because you will build up confidence and reduce your fears and social anxiety.
And the people you see who make it look easy practice all the time! So you have to get out and talk to people all the time, not just in a business scenario…when you are in line at Starbucks, at the grocery store, etc.
Now let’s get into what you can say to start any conversation, anywhere. Here are a few easy conversation starters:
- “Happy Friday, how’s your week going?”
- (If you have a beverage) “Cheers! What’s going on?”
Alternatively, you can ask:
- “How’s your night going?” or “What’s happening?” or “What’s on your agenda for the weekend?” or “What did you do this week (or weekend)?”
And you never want to forget:
- “How’s everything?”
If you’re at an event:
- “What brings you here tonight?” or “How are you involved with this organization?”
A great catchall phrase to use:
- “That’s fantastic. Tell me more…”
Asking questions will get people talking, and people love to share their experiences. People also love to share their opinions. Many people don’t have anyone who truly listens to them, so if you are that person, that can help build rapport quickly. Often, our best listeners are our closest friends. So by listening, you are acting like a person’s close friend, and someone is likely to think of you like that, which is another reason why this is a powerful tool for rapport building.
Here are some good opinion questions:
- “Hey, do you know any great restaurants around here?”
- “Where do you like to go out in the city?” or “Have you been to any new hot spots in the city lately?”
- “Do you know any great organizations I should check out?”
- “What upcoming events are you excited about?”
- Or just, “What do you think about…”
You put that person in the position to be an expert, and you value you them enough to ask for their opinion. Plus, you are actually listening to them versus talking. Most people talk significantly more than they listen because they are trying to “sell” themselves and get validation or approval from someone else. Validate and approve yourself and you move past a major obstacle so many people get caught up in.
Get a plan and commit to talking to 2-3 strangers every single day. Commit to small steps and take action.
Generosity is the Secret Sauce
The second key is to lead with giving. When you make other people successful you will unlock limitless opportunities for every area of your life.
Most people treat others like a stock portfolio. How little can I pay (or do) to get the maximum return back. With people angling to get the most for themselves first, it’s no wonder most people rarely build meaningful relationships.
We live in a world of takers and people who feel entitled to things. Everyone has been taken advantage of, had their heart stomped on, been betrayed by someone they care about, or made fun of. The easiest way to break down the emotional walls this creates is to allow people to be vulnerable and feel safe around you. You can do that in seconds when giving is a part of your DNA. You allow people to share things with you because they know you can be trusted, you give them a voice, and you won’t take advantage of them.
When you lead with generosity, you will stand out. You have to because everyone else is doing the opposite. You will start to widen, deepen, and expand your network at a very fast rate, and you will see your sphere of influence in the world around you grow.
You will find that people will be willing to do almost anything for you, and that will help you create extraordinariness in every area of your life (even beyond work/career). The people you help will be rooting for you to be successful.
Here is How to Lead With Generosity in a Conversation
Start asking them questions about what they need, and you will quickly find out how you can help them. Albert Einstein once said, “Strive not to be a person of success, but a person of value.” Start a conversation with something light and fun. Next you can ask, “What current challenges are you dealing with in your job (or company)?” Finally say, “How can I help you?” or “What can I do this minute to help you?” Then, write yourself a quick note about what is it, exchange contact information, and follow up within 24 hours. You might not be able to help them or provide them with a contact. Just tell them you tried—it will go a long way. I’d also come up with another potential way you could help them and see if that is of interest.
Time to Invest in Your Success
The most powerful asset you have at your disposal is your relationship capital. You need to start making deposits in it now so you can create the professional success you desire.
When you think about it, everything you accomplish in life is with or through other people. Don’t put this off now or you will be wishing you had done this much earlier in your career. And we all know…wishing isn’t a profitable strategy!
Jason Treu is a life mastery coach (and reformed lawyer) helping men and women create the business and life they love. His new bestselling book, Social Wealth, is a how-to-guide on how to build extraordinary personal and professional relationships. Connect with him at BeExtraordinary.tv.
Sebastiaan ter Burg | Courtesy of Jason Treu